Observations from a Blue-Haired Gal

One of the keys to being a good writer is to be a keen observer of human behavior and life in general. No matter what genre you write, observations and experiences from real life impact your writing; and so the more you can observe – and think about what you observe – the better.

Ever since I dyed my hair blue, I’ve observed some very interesting behaviors from people around me. Nothing bad – and even those few who have said in one way or another that they don’t like my hair have still helped me by adding to my list of observations. I’ve even gone so far as to say, when people ask me why I colored my hair, that I’m doing research for a novel. In response to that, I’ve gotten blank looks, and someone asked me when my book was coming out.

My current look, as of my most recent color touch-up

My current look, as of my most recent color touch-up

Note: I’m not doing research for a specific book – I’m just doing research on human behavior, as I mentioned at the beginning. No matter what the response is to that statement, or my hair in general, it’s research. So thank you, one and all, for helping me to become a better writer!

Here are some of the most surprising things I’ve observed during the past six months:

“I wish I had the nerve to do that.” Countless people have said this to me. Some have said that they wish they could do wild things with their hair, but because of their job (usually a high position in the corporate world) they can’t. I can understand that. But what has truly surprised me is the number of young, “edgy” people who have said they wished they had the courage to color their hair. I have had people with tattoos or piercings say this, and also have had hair stylists and other people in the fashion industry say it. It took a lot of courage, yes, for me to initially take the leap and turn my whole head blue, but I didn’t realize how many people don’t feel that they have the courage to make a drastic (but still temporary) outward change.

Let it go! My hair is a bit more purple now, since my stylist used only purple dye for my last color touch-up. But for a couple of months there, my hair was a bright blue. During this time, the most common comment/question I got was: “Did you color your hair because of Frozen?” Um, no. Why? Last time I saw the movie, Elsa had blond hair. I eventually figured out that people were probably saying this because my hair was the exact same shade of blue that predominates the film – especially in the opening title sequence. Even after I figured out the reasoning, it still startled me every time someone brought it up. I even had – on more than one occasion – a random person come up to me and start singing “Let it Go.” Kind of surreal – it was like being a musical where someone spontaneously bursts into song. I’m the creative writer here, and even I couldn’t make this stuff up.

My Queen Elsa hair, apparently.

My Queen Elsa hair, apparently.

I’m more tolerant of other styles. I’d like to say that I never judge a person based on their looks, but I’m afraid that I have – probably more than a few times. We all try not to judge by appearances, but let’s face it – appearances are what we notice first. We make certain assumptions about that girl with the pink Mohawk and the lip ring, or that guy with the rat tail and wife beater. And even if our assumptions wind up being true to one degree or another, there’s still a human being under that clothing and hair, a person with their own unique strengths and dreams. I’m sure a lot of people make judgements about me (that they never would have made if I was still my natural blond). Because I can now see things from the other side, as it were, I try to be more outgoing and comment positively on looks I like or that are unique.

So this has been my diary of my blue hair! I’m enjoying the color – and the whole experience and everything I’m learning from it. Here’s to six more months as a blue-haired gal!

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Six Months as a Blue-Haired Gal

Back in April of this year I took the plunge and colored my hair. It was the first time I’d done a whole-head dye job (aside from once or twice when I just lightened my natural blond color). And just to make sure that this would be a memorable experience, I colored my hair blue.

A few weeks ago, my hair had lightened to a lovely pastel blue. I often wear a hat outside on sunny days to keep it from fading faster.

A few weeks ago, my hair had lightened to a lovely pastel blue. I often wear a hat outside on sunny days to keep it from fading faster.

It’s been an interesting process of growth and learning. My hair stylist is amazing, I think she’s learned a lot, too. We’ve been on this journey together for six months now, and here are a few things that I’ve learned:

Even when bleached, blond hair is really yellow. When I was a kid, I had platinum-blond hair, almost white, but it darkened to a light blond when I was a teenager. Before dying my hair blue for the first time, my stylist bleached my whole head. She also added a little bit of purple to the blue dye. But even so, after the blue started to fade a bit, parts of it began turning green. Not a bad green – more like a teal or turquoise green, which gave my hair a mermaid look (which was cool). But I learned that yellow is apparently a very strong color. Even with the bleach and the purple, there was still enough yellow in my hair to turn some of the blue to green.

People will say things online that they’d never say to your face. Who knew that some people feel more confident hiding behind a social media profile? I actually haven’t gotten many negative comments about my hair, online or in real life. I’ve had a few people say things to the effect of “well, your hair sure is…different,” making it apparent that they don’t like it or don’t approve. Online, I’ve gotten more dramatic comments about how I look or asking why in the world would I do such a horrid thing to myself.

Note: I’m not offended by any of these not-so-positive remarks, and I’m certainly not giving direct quotes or pointing fingers. Anyone is free to dislike my hair, and to tell me so. I’m just making an observation that so far, most of my nay-sayers have not said anything to me face to face.

Overall, most of the comments I’ve gotten – online and IRL – have been positive and complimentary.

I went purple for the most recent color touch-up

I went purple for the most recent color touch-up

Adjustments to new things don’t always have to take a long time. But sometimes they do anyway. Within just a week or so of the first dye job, I was no longer startled every time I saw myself in the mirror. And now, six months in, I occasionally forget that I have blue hair, until someone says “I love that color!” and I’m like, “oh, that’s right, I dyed my hair blue.” But oddly, one thing that still gives me a start is seeing blue hairs in my hairbrush. Weird, right? I can handle my blue-headed reflection, but cleaning out my hair brush and seeing blue hairs in the trashcan is still strange. Truth is stranger than fiction, as they say.

Eventually I’ll go back to my natural blond, but I’m in no hurry. I’ve been loving this experience, and having fun with every new shade and nuance of my hair every time my stylist touches up the color. Here’s to six more months as a blue-haired gal!

What to do with a Shiny New Idea

If you’re a writer (or any creative type, really), you’re probably working on at least two projects at any given time. So what do you do when you’re going along as planned, making headway (or not) on your current creative projects, and a Shiny New Idea hits you out of the blue?

The way I see it, there are three ways you can handle this:

These finished books began as Shiny New Ideas for the authors

These finished books began as Shiny New Ideas for the authors

File it away for later

Whether your Shiny New Idea is just the vaguest form of a concept or a full-blown Idea, write it down. You’ll never bring your Idea to fruition – now or later – if you don’t first write it down. And no, you won’t remember it later. Writing it down and filing it away is a good way to a) remember the Idea when the first Shininess has worn off, and b) let it cool before you interrupt all your current projects to work on it. Being creative is great, but some discipline is needed to finish projects. Resolving to file away for later every New Idea until you’ve finished at least one other project is a good way to discipline yourself and get things accomplished.

Mull it over and brainstorm and work it into your schedule

If your New Idea just won’t leave you alone and it keeps popping back up at inopportune moments, you might decide to go ahead and bring the Idea out of the file-for-later bin. But remember the thing about discipline and finishing stuff from point number one? If you’ve made certain goals or commitments with your current projects (whether it’s publishing deadlines, submitting work to your critique partners, or just a personal goal), make sure you don’t neglect these. If you’ve decided that you want to add one more project to your plate, then your schedule will likely have to get reworked.

Stop your life and do nothing but the New Idea

This is the most tempting when a Shiny New Idea hits, but it’s rarely a good thing to try. And if you’re an adult (or youth) with a job, school, or other responsibilities, then stopping your life for your latest Idea is fine because adulthood is overrated just isn’t possible.

I’ve been hit by a Shiny New Idea more times than I can count – and of course it always comes when I’m swamped with other projects, because I’m always swamped with other projects. About 90% of my Shiny New Ideas get put into category one. Some of them I have eventually made the time to get back to, but most are still on my to-do list. And that’s okay.

It’s good to remember that you can do anything you want, but not everything you want, and certainly not all at once.

So tell me – what do you do with your Shiny New Ideas?

The Color of Creativity

So I recently dyed my hair blue. Actually, my hair stylist did it, and a good thing, too. There’s no way I wanted to have at my own hair with bleach and a tube of dye. Anyone who follows me on Facebook (either my personal profile or my writer’s page) has probably seen a picture or two. So for those of you who haven’t seen me, here’s a picture:

My hair stylist rocks

My hair stylist rocks

The question I’ve gotten the most is, of course, “why?” Some have jokingly muttered about kids these days, and some have asked with genuine surprise and curiosity about what prompted such a radical and dramatic change.

My primary answer is that I thought it would be fun. And that’s true! I wear clothes I enjoy and jewelry I enjoy, so why not do something fun with my hair, too? I feel a bit like a fairy tale creature when I glimpse myself in the mirror, which just adds to the coolness factor. As a fantasy writer, it’s a special kind of fun going around feeling like a character in a story.

After a week of questions, comments, and a few silent disapproving looks, I started wondering if I had some deeper, darker reason for coloring my hair. Was I actually deeply and subconsciously distraught and this was my way of calling out for attention? Was I feeling stifled and blue hair was my way of rebelling? After wrestling with a lot of self-doubt (I’m so talented that I can have self-doubt about lots of other things in addition to my writing!), I concluded that I was not, in fact, mentally disturbed. All I wanted to do was dye my hair blue.

This got me thinking about stereotypes. Not everyone who wears goth makeup, is covered with tattoos and piercings, or has strangely-colored hair is dangerous or disturbed. (Please note – I am not putting down these different styles, and I’m certainly not belittling anyone who dresses a certain way because they’re searching for help.) Yes, the reason that stereotypes develop in the first place is because of the common traits within a grouping. But I know many people who do not fit their stereotyped group, and perhaps now I am one of them.

I colored my hair because I’m creative and artsy, and I decided that it was time for my outward appearance to reflect that. A couple of people expressed to me that with blue hair I would not look professional – which is true if I were trying to fit in the corporate world. But I am a professional writer and social media entrepreneur (or at least working my way towards that), and in that realm, blue hair is just as “professional” as any other color or style.

So maybe I did have a deeper reason for dyeing my hair, after all – to show the world that sometimes negative stereotypes can be wrong, and that blue hair is nothing more than just another color of creativity.

Writing as Therapy

I wrote a guest post for the amazing Ashley over on her blog Journey out of the Abyss. Her blog is different from many that I follow, as it’s about her personal journey out of a life of abuse, addiction, and mental illness. She’s a great writer and has a phenomenal story to tell, so check out other posts on her blog if you feel led to. I’m honored to have a guest spot on her blog here!